Photographer David Strohl discovered the inspiration for his new exhibit, “Qualifies for Dreammaker,” while taking a walk. The show, which takes a closer look at some near–Eastside neighborhoods, opens this week at the Indigo Sky Gallery.
Inspired by German social critic Walter Benjamin’s interpretation of the flaneur — one who wanders aimlessly but remains observant and highly aware — Strohl began taking long walks with his camera, capturing anything that caught his eye.
“I started out by just walking around Savannah,” he explains, “Checking out whatever and photographing along the way anything I found to be a significant indicator of place.”
During his walks, he began the process of re–imagining the city’s boundaries — not by neighborhood or census tract, but by gut reaction based on the ambience, architecture and any number of other tangible and intangible aspects contributing to the totality of any given place in relation to its surroundings.
“How do these all interact and intertwine? How will they influence one another? What’s the underlying story of each of these zones?”
It is questions like these Strohl was trying to answer as he wandered.
After a year of walking and shooting photos, he decided to focus on the area stretching from the Midtown neighborhood up to Ben Van Clark and the surrounding areas. What began as a general exploration was now a quest.
“I went into this very specific area and began discovering a story, which is this gentrification. It’s on the cusp of renewal and there’s some tension,” Strohl explains. “People are uncertain about the future, things are changing.”
He began to spend more and more time walking through the neighborhoods with his camera, snapping pictures or stopping to sit on porches and chat with residents. These moments became central to the project’s development, and three distinct types of photos began to emerge, each of which is represented in the show: “The sentimental personal portraiture, the environmental documentation, and then several examples of the gentrification process or things that symbolize it,” says Strohl.
Although he spent some time studying the fine line between gentrification and revitalization along the way – that is only one part of the show.
“That’s part of the neighborhood, but it doesn’t define the neighborhood,” Strohl explains. “That’s just one part of what it’s going through right now.”
The goal was to document the neighborhood as it is – the people, buildings (occupied or not), changes and potential.
Over time, he also grew a strong emotional attachment to the area.
“I fell in love with the neighborhood, and you can see that in the photographs,” says Strohl. “It’s very sentimental.”
The collected work puts the viewer in the photographer’s shoes as he wanders the streets, talking to people, making observations and becoming part of the neighborhoods’ larger narrative.
The opening reception, which takes place Thursday evening from 6–9 p.m. at the gallery, will celebrate the artwork and the community with a block party, including food and music.
“Qualifies for Dreammaker” Opening Reception
When: Thurs. June 2, 6–9 p.m.
Where: Indigo Sky Gallery, 915 Waters
Info: (912) 233-7659